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FIRST DIVISION

[G.R. No. 15297. November 25, 1921. ]

ISIDRO NANTES, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. DAMIAN MADRIGUERA and ANACLETO CAINTO, Defendants-Appellees.

Godofredo Reyes for Appellant.

No appearance for Appellees.

SYLLABUS
1. AGENCY; ACTION OF THIRD PERSON AGAINST PRINCIPAL; EFFECT OF PRINCIPAL S DENIAL OF AGENTS
AUTHORITY. A person with whom an agent has contracted in the name and for the account of his principal, has a right of
action against the latter, on such contract, notwithstanding the principals denial of the commission or authority of the agent.

2. ID.; PROOF OF AGENT S COMMISSION OR AUTHORITY. In an action against the principal by a person with whom
the agent has transacted business, the plaintiff may prove the existence of the agency notwithstanding the defendants denial
thereof in his answer.

3. ID.; ARTICLE 247 OF THE CODE OF COMMERCE CONSTRUED. Article 247 of the Code of Commerce provides that
"the contract and the actions arising therefrom shall be effective between the principal and the persons or person who may
have transacted business with the agent; but the latter shall be liable to the persons with whom he transacted business during
the time he does not prove the commission, if the principal should deny it." Under this provision, as we construe it, the mere
fact that the agent becomes liable to the third person upon denial of the agency by his principal and upon his failure to prove
the same, cannot and does not, of itself, wipe out the liability of said principal to the person with whom the agent has
contracted in the name of the principal. The third person can prosecute his action against the principal, and if he does not
succeed because of his failure or inability to prove the agency upon which the action is based, he can turn to the agent
himself; or, if he so elects (as he undoubtedly would if he knew beforehand that he could not prove the agency), he can sue
the agent directly, without the necessity of suing the principal first. In other words, the denial of the agency by the principal will
save him from liability to a third person on a contract executed in his (principals) name by one who purports to be his agent,
only when such agency or commission is not ultimately proved.

DECISION

JOHNSON, J. :

The defendant Damian Madriguera is a merchant engaged in the purchase and sale of abaca (hemp), having his principal
place of business in the municipality of Paete, Province of Laguna; and, up to the time hereinafter mentioned, he had been
engaged in such business-for at least twenty years. On the 10th day of July, 1917, the other defendant herein, Anacleto
Cainto, acting as an agent of the said Madriguera, purchased from the plaintiff, Isidro Nantes, in the municipality of Lukban,
Province of Tayabas, 1,257 kilos of abaca at the agreed price of P1,357.56. Of this sum only P70 was paid by Cainto to
Nantes at the time of the sale, leaving a balance of P1,287.56. The whole transaction was reduced to writing in the words and
figures following:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Be it known that I, Anacleto Cainto, of age, of Paete, Laguna, have this day bought from Mr. Isidro Nantes, of Lukban, for the
account of my principal Mr. Damian Madriguera, of Paete, 1,257 kilos of abaca for the sum of one thousand three hundred
fifty-seven pesos and fifty-six centavos (P1,357.56), of which I have only paid the sum of seventy pesos (P70), the balance of
P1,287.56 to be paid to said Isidro Nantes or any other person that may be designated by him, in Santa Cruz, Laguna, where
the abaca is to be sent by him as per our agreement, upon receipt of the abaca and delivery thereof to my principal, all the
transportation expenses to the amount of P25.81 to be paid by me, and I promise to do all this immediately after delivery.

"In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand in the presence of two witnesses at Lukban, this 10th day of July, 1917.

"On behalf of

"Mr. Damian Madriguera

(Sgd.) "ANACLETO CAINTO.

(Sgd.) "MARCELO RADUVAN,

"ISABELO DEVESA.

"I have this 16th day of July, 1917, received from Mr. Isabelo Devesa the 1,257 kilos of abaca, and I promise to pay him the
balance of P1,313.37 on Friday, the 20th, in the municipality of Lukban, as I have to get the money yet from my said principal,
Mr. Damian Madriguera, for whose account I have purchased the abaca.

"Santa Cruz, Laguna, July 16, 1917.


(Sgd.) "A. CAINTO.

The 1,257 kilos of abaca above-mentioned was duly delivered by the defendant Anacleto Cainto to his codefendant Damian
Madriguera.

The present action was instituted by the vendor, Isidro Nantes, on the 7th day of August, 1917, against Damian Madriguera
as principal and Anacleto Cainto as agent, to recover the said balance of P1,287.56 together with interest and costs. The
defendant Madriguera in his answer denied the relation of principal and agent between him and his codefendant Cainto, and
disclaimed any liability to the plaintiff. The defendant Cainto, in his answer, admitted all the allegations of the complaint, but
claimed that, inasmuch as in the transaction in question he had acted as a mere agent of Madriguera, the latter alone, as
principal, was liable to the plaintiff, and prayed that he be absolved from all liability under the complaint.

During the trial of the cause the plaintiff called the defendant Anacleto Cainto to the witness stand, and he testified, in
substance, that he was a buyer of abaca for the account of Damian Madriguera, and had been such a buyer since the month
of March, 1917; that Madriguera furnished him the money with which to pay for the abaca which he purchased; that, when he
had no cash on hand, he had instructions from Madriguera to buy abaca on credit, issuing a receipt therefor and promising to
pay upon the arrival of Madriguera from Manila where he held the abaca which had been purchased by his agent, Cainto; that
he bought the 1,257 kilos of abaca in question from the Plaintiff, Isidro Nantes, for the account of his principal, Madriguera,
and issued the document Exhibit A, hereinabove quoted; and that he delivered the said abaca to the defendant Madriguera.

Counsel for Madriguera moved to strike out the testimony of the witness Cainto with reference to the relation of principal and
agent between the former and the latter, upon the ground that it was incompetent, and the court reserved its ruling.

Plaintiff offered three other witnesses Pablo Valquiera Aniceto Caiud, and Rosendo Bagabaldo to further prove the
relation of principal and agent existing between the two defendants herein, but the court, upon objection of counsel for the
defendant Madriguera, refused to allow them to testify upon the ground that their testimony was incompetent.

Plaintiff also offered Exhibits A and B in evidence, but they were likewise rejected by the court upon objection of counsel for
the defendant Madriguera.

In its decision the lower court held that the plaintiff, at the time of filing his complaint, had no cause of action against the
defendant Madriguera because the latter in his answer denied that the defendant Cainto had acted as his agent in the
purchase of the abaca in question from the plaintiff; and, for that reason, the court held, proof was inadmissible which tended
to establish the liability of Madriguera to the plaintiff, Nantes, inasmuch as at the time of the presentation of the complaint no
obligation had arisen on the part of the former to pay the balance of the price of abaca which the latter sold to Cainto. The
lower court, construing article 247 of the Code of Commerce, held that under that article only when the commission is known
and admitted can the third person hold the principal liable upon a contract executed by his agent; that when the commission
is denied the third person can only sue the agent personally; and that in the present case he only person who could prove the
commission or agency was Cainto. and not Nantes. For the reasons stated, the lower court rendered a judgment against the
defendant Anacleto Cainto and in favor of the plaintiff for the sum of P1,287.56, with interest thereon at the legal rate from the
7th day of August, 1917, and to pay the costs. The defendant Damian Madriguera was absolved from all liability under the
complaint, without prejudice to the action which the defendant Cainto might institute against him. From that judgment the
plaintiff appealed to this court.

Appellant contends that the lower court committed an error in discarding and in refusing to admit any and all proof adduced
and offered by him to show the relation of principal and agent between the defendants Madriguera and Cainto.

It will be seen that the only question presented is one of law, to wit: When an agent contracts in the name and for the account
of his principal, can the person with whom he has so contracted prove the existence of the agency, in an action brought by
him against the principal, in case the latter should deny the same?

Article 247 of the Code of Commerce provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"ART. 247. If the agent transacts business in the name of the principal, he must state that fact; and if the contract is in writing,
he must state it therein or in the subscribing clause, giving the name, surname, and domicile of said principal.

"In the case prescribed in the foregoing paragraph, the contract and the actions arising therefrom shall be effective between
the principal and the persons or person who may have transacted business with the agent; but the latter shall be liable to the
persons with whom he transacted business during the time he does not prove the commission, if the principal should deny it,
without prejudice to the obligation and proper actions between the principal and agent."cralaw virtua1aw library

Article 246 of the same Code provides:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"ART. 246. When the agent transacts business in his. own name, it shall not be necessary for him to state who is the principal
and he shall be directly liable, as if the business were for his own account, to the persons with whom he transacts the same,
said persons not having any right of action against the principal, nor the latter against the former, the liabilities of the principal
and of the agent to each other always being reserved."cralaw virtua1aw library

It will be noted from the foregoing provisions that when the agent transacts business in his own name, the person with whom
he transacts the same can only sue such agent, he not having any right of action against the principal; but when the agent
transacts business in the name of the principal, as prescribed by article 247, the person with whom he transacts the same
can only sue the principal, he having a right of action against the agent only when the principal denies the agency and the
agent does not prove the same. The reason, we think, is obvious: In the first ease, the third person, in contracting with the
agent, has relied exclusively upon his business standing and financial ability; whereas in the second case, he has relied upon
the business standing and financial ability of the principal in whose name the agent has contracted.

Now, in the case contemplated by article 247, when a person sues the principal on a contract duly entered into by his agent,
is the mere denial by said principal of the existence of the agency sufficient to defeat the action? An affirmative answer, in our
opinion, is not only repugnant to the spirit of the law but is fraught with disastrous consequences. The article in question (art.
247) provides that "the contract and the actions arising therefrom shall be effective between the principal and the persons or
person who may have transacted business with the agent; but the latter shall be liable to the persons with whom he
transacted business during the time he does not prove the commission, if the principal should deny it." Under this provision,
as we construe it, the mere fact that the agent becomes liable to the third person upon denial of the agency by his principal
and upon his failure to prove the same, cannot and does not, of itself, wipe out the liability of said principal to the person with
whom the agent has contracted in the name of the principal. The third person can prosecute his action against the principal.
and if he does not succeed because of his failure or inability to prove the agency upon which the action is based, he can turn
to the agent himself; or, if he so elects (as he undoubtedly would if he knew beforehand that he could not prove the agency),
he can sue the agent directly, without the necessity of suing the principal first. In other words, the denial of the agency by the
principal will save him from liability to a third person on a contract executed in his (principals) name by one who purports to
be his agent, only when such agency or commission is not ultimately proved. For, if it be satisfactorily proved that he really
authorized the supposed agent to enter into such contract as the one on which the action is based, and if that contract is valid
and legal in every respect, we see no reason why he (the principal) should not be held liable thereon to the person with whom
his agent has contracted. It follows that such third person has a right of action against the principal notwithstanding the latters
denial of the agency; and he, having a right of action, certainly has the right to adduce proof of the agency or commission to
make that right effective. The reason for making the agent liable to the third person in case the supposed principal should
deny the agency is to protect both such third person and the supposed principal from the imposition of the alleged agent who,
without commission or authority whatever, might contract in the name of said principal but for his (agents) own personal
benefit. In such a case the third person would, of course, be unable to prove the agency or commission, and his only
recourse would be against the pseudo-agent. But when, as in the case at bar, the third person has reliable, trustworthy, and
competent proof that the principal had really commissioned or authorized the agent to transact the business, or enter into the
contract in question, there is certainly no reason, either in law or in equity, why he should not be allowed to present such
proof and hold the principal liable.

Aside from the foregoing, to hold otherwise, as the lower court did, would, in our opinion, lead to disastrous consequences,
which the law sedulously guards against. For, if the mere denial of the agency by the principal is sufficient to bar or defeat the
action of the person with whom the agent duly contracted or transacted business, it requires no stretch of the imagination to
see the door to fraud thrown wide open. For, then, a person of well-known and sound financial standing could purposely
employ an indigent but otherwise capable agent, publicly and legally authorizing him to transact enormous business in his
name and for his account, with the intention of denying later the person or persons with whom said agent has transacted the
person or persons with whom said agent has transacted business. True, such person has an action against the insolvent
agent; but of what use would it be to attempt to squeeze blood out of a turnip? True, also, the insolvent agent has an action
against the principal; but under what power on earth can the third person compel him to bring an action against his principal,
especially if the latter should secretly and fraudulently agree to split the spoil with him? If such were the effect of article 247 of
the Code of Commerce no one would ever transact business with an agent, relying upon the credit of the principal. Thus, not
only said article but all the other articles of the Code relating to agency would be rendered practically nugatory.

We are therefore of the opinion that a person who has transacted business with an agent acting in the name of his principal,
as prescribed by article 247 of the Code of Commerce, has an action against such principal notwithstanding the latters denial
of the agents commission or authority, and should be permitted to prove that commission or authority of the agent to transact
the business in question. It follows that the lower court committed the error assigned by the appellant herein.

Appellant in his brief asks that the decision of the lower court be revoked and that the cause be remanded to the court below
with instructions to admit the proofs offered by the plaintiff with regard to the existence of the commercial commission or
agency in question. Most of the proofs duly offered by the Plaintiff but rejected by the trial court are attached to the record
before us. Such proofs consist of (1) Exhibit A, above quoted; (2) the testimony of Anacleto Cainto, hereinabove summarized;
(3) Exhibit B, a telegram prepared by the defendant Madriguera, addressed to the plaintiff, Nantes, telling the latter that the
amount in question would be paid to him in Paete, Laguna; and (4) the testimony of Isabelo Devesa, appearing at pages 24
to 26 of the stenographic notes. These proofs, which should have been admitted by the lower court and which we hereby
admit, fully establish the relation of principal and agent between Madriguera and Cainto. There is no proof in the record on
behalf of the defendant Madriguera, which would tend to overcome the proofs presented by the plaintiff, except the testimony
of Madriguera himself, simply denying that the defendant Cainto was his agent. In view whereof, we see no necessity for
ordering a new trial of this cause. The expense and the delay incident to such new trial should, in justice to all the parties
concerned, be avoided.

Wherefore, the judgment of the lower court is hereby revoked, and it is hereby ordered and decreed that the plaintiff Isidro
Nantes have and recover from the defendant Damian Madriguera the sum of P1,287.56, with interest thereon at the legal rate
from the 7th day of August, 1917, until paid, and the costs of both instances. The defendant Anacleto Cainto is hereby
absolved from all liability under the complaint. So ordered.

Araullo, C.J., Street, Avancea and Villamor, JJ., concur.